EDF wants to become a leader in low-carbon hydrogen production in Europe

The French electrician intends to put the means in the production of hydrogen and sets 2030 as a goal.

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At the time of the energy transition, the absence of hydrogen in the portfolio of an energy company is no longer conceivable. Especially since EDF already has the necessary equipment with its low-carbon electricity generation fleet (nuclear and renewable), enough to generate hydrogen by water electrolysis process. It has a dedicated subsidiary for this, called Hynamics, which was created three years ago.

Three GW (gigawatts) of electricity will produce 450,000 tonnes of hydrogen each year and thus save three million tonnes of carbon. To give an idea: three million tonnes of carbon is what half of the French maritime traffic on the international market rejects today. Hydrogen produced from the electrolysis of water is set to play a major role in decarbonizing what is known as “heavy mobility”: trains in non-electrified areas to avoid using diesel, trucks , buses, garbage trucks with their dumpsters, etc.

The investment will amount to two or three billion euros, but the efforts will be shared with partners in which the public company has recently taken a stake, such as the young French company McPhy, which manufactures electrolysers. Partnerships have also been forged with Alstom, which masters hydrogen train technology, and Boréalis for the production of ammonia necessary for the manufacturing process.

Two to three billion euros of new investments, is it very reasonable for a public group whose financial difficulties are known? The group, which expects a dip in its performance this year, must deal with various problems: nuclear production and major refit (maintenance of the fleet of power stations and reactors); the government’s measures to limit the rise in electricity bills which weigh on its accounts; and then the debt: EDF is in debt today of 43 billion euros. Admittedly, there was recently a capital increase in which the State took part, not to mention the public subsidies but from which the competition will also be able to benefit. Engie, Air Liquide and TotalEnergies are also in the running.

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